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April 28 2008

Tony Head gives an update on Ripper. He seems to think that it could still possibly happen.

British fans will probably recognise Julie Gardner from all those Doctor Who Confidential episodes.

Well I'd be very happy if Julie Gardner got this one to work. And it seems like everyone is interested in doing it - which is great.
Interesting comments on the movie. "The worst spoiler of all time" (ASH's words, not mine) is that surely?
I don't think RIPPER is ever going to happen. I don't even think that there will be some sort of "Buffy"-spin-off until they decide to make a big movie remake in 30 or 50 years.
I didn't realize that there was an actual plot outline. Although Joss may have just decided ro refine his original ideas for Ripper, back from when it was conceived as more of a mini-series. It was to be mostly about ghosts then, too, in both a literal and metaphorical sense, as I recall.

I'm kinda with Donnie. I think this only has much of a chance of being made if Dollhouse doesn't make it. Otherwise, there would be time constraints. Both Ripper and The Serving Girl could be made on summer hiatus, I guess. But His Purpleness has got a lot on his plate right now.
ASH is shooting Merlin, which is shooting on the Doctor Who soundstages at BBC Wales, which comes under the control of one Ms Julie Gardner.

Not only is there an outline for this, but I know for a fact the BBC want to make it. Hopefully it pans out.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-04-28 09:07 ]
So the answer is that there is a possibility of something happening… the story that he's written could adapt to being a one-off story not necessarily related to Buffy.

And not actually starring Tony? Or if 20th Century Fox don't give approval, it'll be Ripper in all but name?
I know for a fact the BBC want to make it. Hopefully it pans out.

Good to hear. I really hope it works out. Of all the mooted Buffy spin-offs, this was always the one which appealed most to me.

And not actually starring Tony? Or if 20th Century Fox don't give approval, it'll be Ripper in all but name?

I hope he'd be still in it. Maybe "Ripper in all but name" would have to do, but they'd have to tread carefully, what with lawyers and all. But anyway, as long as Joss writes it, I'd be happy. He wouldn't need to direct.
Really can't see this project ever happening without Joss and ASH both involved, Simon. What would be the point? No matter how good this story might be, it's the Ripper element that is the driving force behind it happening and that requires Joss and Tony being part of the project. It will either truly be Ripper or nothing at all, I reckon.

That said, I've a nasty feeling that it will be the "nothing at all" option. I've said before when discussing this project elsewhere that it kinda feels like Joss jumped the gun on this one and made it sound a little more definite than it was. Especially given the fact Fox is involved in allowing it to go ahead. Hope I'm wrong, though.
Or if 20th Century Fox don't give approval, it'll be Ripper in all but name?

I quite liked this back when it was called "Strange" ;).

Still gonna watch 'Merlin' but "'Smallville' meets Camelot" doesn't exactly fill me with warm fuzzies. Makes me think of 'Robin Hood' (which, in fairness I only saw the first 15 minutes of) but set further back in history. 'The Invisibles' keeps sounding better and better though.
Surprised that ASH is still talking about it, I really thought it was dead in the water but if Joss spoke to the BBC gal then maybe there's still a chance.
I'm also surprised about the BBC's involvment, if they liked the Buffy-verse so much how come they no longer show Buffy on BBC2?
Maybe they don't have the rights to it anymore. And click here for a very interesting behind the scenes look at BBC Drama.
Interesting "behind the scenes" link though it was very he-said/she-said. Some anonymous writers don't like the climate and yet most acknowledge that BBC drama is flourishing in that same climate. Who's right ?

As Simon says they probably no longer have the repeat rights for Buffy mark. Last time I had Sky/cable it was repeated daily on Sky 1 and also on FX (and probably other channels).

The Beeb had Buffy for the entirety of its 7 year run and in later seasons also showed a late night uncut repeat. It was quite a success for them so I don't see why they wouldn't want to work with Joss again and have seen no sign that they don't like the Buffy-verse.
I think I would be happy with the Doctor Who lot writing 'Ripper'. I know for a fact that Russel Davis is a Buffy fan (he says it a lot...) and some of his more serious stuff has been amazing (not that Doctor Who isn't amazing, but it is very silly in a good way). The Second Coming of course comes to mind, and I still need to watch Bob and Rose.
Julie Gardner's behind Dr Who, so she pretty much has carte blanche at the BBC these days.

And as for not having time, Joss once ran three shows at once! I still think it could happen.

RTD writing it? Are you mad???
Russell T Davies has an extensive and very impressive body of work behind him. The man who wrote 'Second Coming' is surely not the worst writer ever or anything even remotely close to that.

I am rather dubious about 'Ripper' ever seeing the light of day, but who knows? Julie Gardner is an influential presence within the BBC if she is interested.

Gardner is the Controller of Drama Commissioning at BBC Television and Head of Drama for BBC Wales. She is not a show ruuner in the sense that Joss Whedon or Russell T Davies are (is "show runner" the correct expression?)
RTD is probably the closest we have to a showrunner in the UK so it's not wrong to call him that IMO.

I find his stuff variable but I wouldn't mind the cream of the Who crop (Moffatt/Cornell and newbie entrant James Moran IMO) writing 'Ripper' with RTD producing (his arc creation is pretty good as are his stories I just sometimes find his dialogue and other specific details a bit clunky).

ETA: Assuming Joss wouldn't/couldn't do it for some reason (goes without saying i'd rather he wrote it. And directed it for that matter).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-04-28 13:31 ]
Ben Stephenson is the Controller of Drama Commissioning at the BBC not Julie Gardner (as is also mentioned in the Guardian article Simon linked to).

The last time Buffy was on terrestrial tv in the UK is when five showed the first series in 2005 and when I got hooked.

ETA: actually I'm now confused - they both appear to be head of something at Drama Commissioning.

[ edited by moley75 on 2008-04-28 13:50 ]
My mistake - apologies. She is, then, just the Head of Drama at BBC Wales.

Edited to add: This article in The Stage on 21 September 2006 indicates that Gardner was appointed as head of drama commissioning (presumably at BBC Vision, whatever that is), so I wasn't completely off track.

[ edited by alien lanes on 2008-04-28 13:58 ]

[ edited by alien lanes on 2008-04-28 13:59 ]
Julie is also a Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-04-28 14:00 ]
ETA madness! The BBC is confusing us with all these heads of drama.
They should have an Arm of Drama to balance things out. I'd do it.
I volunteer my services as DramaWang.

Soon we'll have a whole Drama body and can then go careening about the countryside being Dramatic towards all in our path. Cows are especially vulnerable to drama so I expect good hunting.
I think I would be happy with the Doctor Who lot writing 'Ripper'.

Please, no! Joss, or at a push one of the other ex-Buffy writers (with Joss giving the sort of helpful input he used to on Buffy), or it's not worth doing. And although Doctor Who is fun, it is a kids show, and works on that level. Torchwood wasn't very good, and Moffat's Jekyll was truly atrocious. However much Russell T. Davis et al might like genre fiction, they can't really get how to write it, in my opinion.

If you want to let any of them in, to make it more palatable to a Brit license fee paying audience, maybe let one of them direct. But keep them away from the writing.
A year or so ago I may well have agreed with Kiddo. I was never much of a Doctor Who fan as a kid, mainly due to the fact it was ending around the time I really started watching anything outside of cartoons and other childrens television. I probably saw the last half of Sylvester McCoy's time as the Doctor and even that was only now and again.

When the show came back I didn't pay much attention. I watched the first new episode and thought it was okay, if a little silly, but because I'm usually getting ready to go out at that time on a Saturday I just didn't stick with the show. It took a friend of mine lending me his season 2 boxset (and the amazing David Tennant) to get me to actually stop and pay attention to the world of the Doctor. Pretty much all my assumptions about it being a show for kids were blown away. Yeah, it's not always the most serious of shows and it is definitely campy at times but it's damn good entertainment with it.

Since then I've gone back and watched a lot of the old stuff (in fact I'm getting the DVD set of the first William Hartnell episodes soon and so going right back to where it all started) and also become a big Torchwood fan. I've even developed a whole new respect for Catherine Tate, which I actually thought was impossible given how much I cannot stand her comedy show.

As for the writing, it's not always to the standard of the likes of Joss Whedon but it's still damn good, in my opinion. You only have to sit and watch the season 3 episode Blink to see what they are capable of. Excellent stuff and definitely not for kids alone.
You know,if things never pan out with Ripper,I would love to see the story Joss had for it worked into the canon comics either in season 8 like he did with the Faith movie,the "No Future For You" arc,or season 9.Or even it's own one-shot or mini.
'Doctor Who' is intended to appeal to a family audience, but it is not a kid's show as such. A lot of people dismissed and continue to dismiss 'Buffy' as a kid's show - not that there is actually anything at all wrong with shows made for children and teenagers.
Whether you like Dr Who or not, it's a completely different animal to your typical Joss show, and frankly I don't think RTD is up to it. I don't want another RTD show, and that's what it would be. He can't write someone else's work, he'd twist it into his own creation, and it wouldn't be Ripper anymore.

As for the writing, it's not always to the standard of the likes of Joss Whedon but it's still damn good, in my opinion.

My point is that it's not just a case of good writing and bad writing. The writers of Dr Who can be "good" in as much that they create the show they want to make, and they can do that very well, but just because it's good writing doesn't mean it's suitable for a show like Ripper.
I'd also like to say that I think that you'd be best off hiring writers and directors from that've done BBC period dramas. They tend to be very competent, and I think a bit of distance from doing genre shows would be good. If you're making a genre show you don't want people who are used to fantasy, because they'll make something unbelievable, instead you could have people who are used to producing realism.
I am just keeping my fingers crossed. Would just love to see the Buffy cannon continue on the small screen (and I guess one can dream for the big screen - but that may be too much of a stretch).

Can't stop the Signal!!
(okay that was a Serenity shout out, do we have one for Buffy??)
For me, Doctor Who is as good as Buffy. I love it to bits. It's the only show since Buffy went off the air that I've totally immersed myself in.
For my money Tony Jordan would be a far superior choice to RTD or Steven Moffat.
Moffat's Jekyll was truly atrocious. However much Russell T. Davis et al might like genre fiction, they can't really get how to write it, in my opinion.

Are you kidding/high? (totally being facetious about the hight part, it should go without saying) Moffat has won two Hugo's and been nominated for Nebulas for his Doctor Who work. Seriously, if you haven't seen his Doctor Who episodes, hunt them down. I can accept that Jekyll, brilliant though it was, wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but seriously, the man's scripts are Joss-worthy, no question in my mind. He could write Ripper in the morning and still have time to embarrass the rest of the Who staff with a brilliant new two-parter in the afternoon (and still have time for tea).
I agree with Simon, I was skeptical about Doctor Who at first (the original series was always my Brother's thing), but when I sat down and watched it over Easter, I watched all of it in about a week. This isn't too rare for me, but I loved every second. The end of series 2 made me cry more than I think I ever have over a TV series (including 'The Body').

If you still doubt Russel's stories and shows I urge you to watch Queer as Folk and The Second Coming. Both are brilliant and both are daring.
I'm in the middle of Dr. Who Season 2 right now (I tend to be waaay behind the times), and am loving it. I've been Netflixing it, but will definitely be buying it (and I don't buy a lot of dvds). I'm so happy that there's still a season and a half (on DVD) that I haven't seen yet! (And I'm glad I don't know what Vortigun was crying about.)
Then I'll start Torchwood.
Personally I found QaF poorly plotted with a ludicrous ending and SC good to start with but the second part didn't live up to the first. Doctor Who and Torchwood are ok but the quality varies wildly from episode to episode (the problem of not having a writers room). Of course YMMV.
zeitgeist. I'm a Brit, and I have seen all of the RTD incarnation of Doctor Who prior to the current season (I'm out of the country at the moment), including (of course) the Moffat episodes. Blink was particularly good. And it those that made me interested enought to watch Jekyll. Maybe the main problem was the casting of Nesbitt, who was dreadful, but the direction was lame, and the writing - sadly, and suprisingly - not that good (unless it was all hampered by the rubbish acting and poor direction). After seeing Jekyll, I started having doubts about the idea of Moffat taking over from RTD on Who, although he's probably still the best man for the job, and maybe Jekyll was a blip.

My comments about Who being a kids show are not dismissive of it: they are a fact (OK, "family" show). It's a fact that allows me to excuse some of the completely lame and daft ideas which sometimes sneak in. But consider that they've not yet been able to create an iconic baddie/monster of their own, and have at times mucked about with the existing icons (like the Daleks) in ways which don't work. Admittedly, I've not seen any of the current season (and the idea of Catherine Tate in it appalls me - and yes, I did see her Christmas episode...), but RTD seems to have been more interested in the relationship between The Doctor and his assistant than in the monsters. Or else he just hasn't got it in him.

and I think a bit of distance from doing genre shows would be good

RTD is not a genre writer, and none of his writing staff are, either (as is obvious whenever you see them talking on Dr. Who Confidential and similar). Queer as Folk and other of his pre-Who drama work were good. But Who was his first foray into genre. It is successful up to a point. But Torchwood isn't. They seem to think that putting a bit of swearing, snogging (preferably same-sex) and shagging into a show makes it grown-up. It doesn't. Who is superior in pretty much every way. And I didn't detect the rise in quality in the second series of Torchwood which others claimed for it. I call Emporer's New Clothes on that one. I don't think distance from genre helps. I really don't think they understand writing genre well enough, and that's why they've failed to come up with iconic monsters, and why Torchwood is just generally bad.

Anyway, hopefully the whole point of the BBC's Ripper plans are to work with Joss, some hopefully this is all a moot point.

(Edited to fix a couple of bits of punctuation I missed)

[ edited by Kiddo on 2008-04-29 01:12 ]
‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ is a kid’s show (and a very enjoyable one). ‘Doctor Who’, not so much, I would say – although it is certainly intended to be appealing to all age groups.

I agree that the new ‘Doctor Who’ concentrates on characterisation and the relationships between the regular and recurring characters. This is one of the main reasons why I like it so much. For example, in the first two seasons it was the relationships of Rose, her parents and her boyfriend Mickey and how this impacted on the doctor that made it such compelling viewing (I am talking from a purely personal viewing experience). If it was just about the monsters I cannot imagine I would still be watching now – and has the show mucked about with existing foes of the doctor? I have always thought the most important aspect of ‘Doctor Who’ is the relationship between the doctor and whoever is travelling with him – some particular favourites of mine being Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Tegan Jovanka and Ace.

Regarding Russell T Davies not being a genre writer, I would say he is not only a genre writer. I know he is a somewhat contentious figure amongst quite large numbers of ‘Doctor Who’ fans (reminding me at times of the outpouring of “love” that was directed towards Marti Noxon by some ‘Buffy’ fans at one time), but he is responsible for some of my favourite episodes in the first three and a bit seasons of the new show and I also like a lot of his other work very much. Now, if I am being entirely honest, I am not exactly sure what is actually meant by a genre writer. If Joss Whedon were to write the screenplay for a film that doesn’t fit into “genre” would we say he is not up to the task of doing it because he is a genre writer? Alternatively, could we argue that he should have stuck to writing for sit-coms, since this is where is career started?

I liked the first season of ‘Torchwood’ very much. It had its faults, but they were outweighed for me by the things I enjoyed. However, I really disliked season two and gave up on it after three episodes, although I did watch the season finale. A lot of the things I had liked so much in season one seemed to be the “flaws” that were ironed out in the second season. I suspect I might be in a minority about this, because I think the second season was generally better received by viewers.

As far as ‘Ripper’ is concerned, I am in the pessimistic camp that thinks it won’t happen, but if it does I assume it is going to be a Joss Whedon project, so talk about Russell T Davies is of no great relevance I would imagine. And I agree with Saje about ‘Strange’, a very undervalued show that seems to foreshadow the whole ‘Ripper’ concept.
Poor Tony, he must be getting tired of being asked about 'Ripper'. At least he's gracious enough about the project not to put the total kibosh on things, while still continuing on with all of his other work.

I'd never say never, but I'm sure glad I didn't hold my breath over this one.

(Oh, and this is bit disconcerting as I work with a different 'Julie Gardner'. I can't stand her- whoops, hope she doesn't egosurf any time soon!)
It depends on what's meant by "writing staff" and "genre" but Paul Cornell and James Moran are both most definitely genre writers (Cornell, apart from his 'Doctor Who' books, writes sci-fi novels, quite well I might add, as well as 'Primeval' - not that that's a recommendation IMO but it's surely genre writing - and James Moran wrote the horror film 'Severance'). Also, Matthew Graham created/wrote 'The Last Train' and co-created/wrote for 'Life on Mars'.

It's probably true to say though that a lot of them come from "straight" drama or even theatre but then as alien lanes says, that doesn't mean you can't write genre (hasn't stopped Steven Moffat for instance, his Who episodes are arguably the best of the bunch and pre-Jekyll he was probably best known for 'Coupling' or maybe 'Press Gang').

Re: 'Torchwood', series 2 was much better IMO though I liked parts of series 1 (mainly the later or non-Ianto "parts" ;). I've said elsewhere that it's one of the most improved second series of a programme that I can remember and, despite a drop off about 3/4 of the way through, I stand by that. The reception of that show never ceases to amaze me though, no matter how many other shows you may like in common, other folk always seem to jump in surprising directions when it comes to TW - it's very hard to predict how they'll respond to it based on past tastes IMO.
Didn't Paul Cornell also write the Pete Wisdom mini-series for Marvel a while back? If I'm right then the guy definitely knows how to write genre stories, in my opinion. That was an excellent read. In fact it had kind of a Doctor Who style about it, thinking back. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised about that.
OK, I'll grant I was being dogmatic without much in the way of facts to back me up about RTD's writing staff not being "genre" writers, but I was going on the impressions given when any of them took part in things like Dr. Who Confidential.

Anyway, horses for courses. I know a lot of people who liked Torchwood - possibly a couple of them would actually claim it was quite good - but to me personally it failed on about every level.

But regardless, Ripper just has to be a Joss project. At least for the writing.
Yes, Paul Cornell did write the Wisdom mini for Marvel's MAX imprint. Good spot, I totally didn't make the connection.
Is it any good then ? Might be one for the wishlist.
Saje, it's actually excellent. Made Pete Wisdom a much more interesting character, for me anyway.

I think that Paul Cornell is also writing the new Captain Britain series as well, also featuring Pete Wisdom and some of the other characters from the Wisdom mini. If so then I'd recommend picking that up too. Should be a good book.

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